VIDEO: Tanilla’s tragedy –  mother pleads guilty to manslaughter

Hitting out: Tanilla’s stepmother Brooke Bowen speaks outside court after hearing Tanilla’s mother, 29, plead guilty to manslaughter. Photo: Stephanie Gardiner
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Died: Tanilla Warrick-Deaves.

The stepmother of a toddler who died on the Central Coast says community services should “hang their heads in shame” because her family made 33 reports with concerns for the girl’s welfare.

Two-year-old Tanilla Warrick-Deaves was found suffering several injuries in the early morning of August 27, 2011, at a house in Stonehaven Avenue, Watanobbi, and died in Wyong Hospital soon after.

In the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday her mother, Donna Deaves, 29, pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter.

Wearing a brown jumper and a collared shirt, Deaves stood and entered her plea in a clear voice.

Crown prosecutor, Terry Thorpe, accepted Deaves’ plea on the basis of “criminal negligence in that she did not get medical assistance for the deceased”.

Soon after Tanilla was found dead, police said they wanted to speak to anyone who may have known the toddler was being abused before her death, after a post-mortem examination showed “she did not die of natural causes”.

Outside court, Tanilla’s stepmother Brooke Bowen broke down.

Ms Bowen said the family made repeated calls to the the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS), then known as the Department of Community Services, about concerns for the toddler’s welfare.

“It wasn’t just the last two weeks of her life she was being reported. She had 33 reports on her and she was only two-and-a-half. Alarm bells, hello?

“They let Tanilla down. A lot of people let Tanilla down.

“Let’s just hope after this is all over something can change in the system. It’s not going to bring Tanilla back, it’s not going to bring any other children back, but let’s hope this is an example to get them up on their toes.”

In a statement, a FaCS spokesman said the department was “deeply saddened by the tragic case of this little girl”.

But there would be no further comment until Deaves’ court case, and related cases, were finalised, the spokesman said.

Deaves was first charged with being an accessory to murder but after continuing investigations, police upgraded the charge to manslaughter, then murder.

A co-accused, who is awaiting trial, is charged with the girl’s murder.

Ms Bowen described Tanilla as a “beautiful little girl”.

“We never had a problem with her. She was happy, she loved everybody. She was a happy-go-lucky little girl.”

She said Tanilla’s father, Adrian Warrick, was not coping well.

“He’s an emotional wreck. He can’t face Donna at the moment.

“He’s getting better and as long as he’s in the right frame of mind … to get well for himself … so we can carry on and get justice for Tanilla because that’s what it’s all about.”

Deaves will face a sentence hearing in September.

The girl’s family has given permission to identify her.

Urban design turns up the heat

If Paul Osmond had his way, he’d have householders around Australia ripping up their backyard pavers.
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In their place would be grass, pebbles, mulch and gardens.

And those McMansions? They’d look a bit different too. Namely they’d have green walls and reflective roofs, and a smaller footprint.

Dr Osmond is an expert in sustainable development at the University of New South Wales. He is concerned about the growing problem of urban heat islands in Australia.

“When you increase areas of hard surfaces which absorb long wave radiation you get hotter,” says Osmond. “If you’re absorbing the solar radiation, you’re re-radiating it [and] it gets trapped in the urban jungle.

Osmond’s colleagues have this week released a study that predicts parts of Australian cities, which already struggle to release built-up heat overnight, could hot up by another 3.7 degrees over the next four decades as our cities grow out and up.

Doesn’t sound like much? Rewind to the stifling heatwaves that gripped southern Australia earlier this year and add another 3.7 degrees overnight, when the urban heat island effect is most noticeable. Not exactly comfortable, and for vulnerable people such as the frail elderly, it could pose serious health risks.

The question of what needs to be done in an Australian context to combat the problem of urban heat islands hasn’t fully been answered. Although the problem has been known about since the 1800s when it was first studied in London, it has only been the last few decades that it has been viewed as a serious issue.

Osmond says on an individual scale, householders can increase the permeable surfaces in their own properties, reducing areas that can trap heat. Planting greenery helps too as extra vegetation provides cooling shade, and increases the evaporative cooling effect.

But there’s only so much individuals can achieve. “With the increasing high density living … it does make life a bit more difficult in terms of what the householder can do locally with greening projects,” Osmond says.

Local council greening plans contribute to the solution by bolstering the urban forest.

However, the biggest changes need to occur when urban areas – ranging from individual buildings to complete suburbs – are being planned.

He is hopeful a three-year research collaboration between universities in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide will provide some valuable insights to planners.

“It’s not blue sky research by any means. It’s applied research with the intent to make a difference,” Osmond says of the Co-operative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living.

“The first thing is to find out what’s going on, to actually investigate the effects of urban layouts – what we call urban morphology – the shape, design, grid patterns of streets; the size, orientation and so on of the buildings; and the effects of vegetation,” he says.

“We need to get a handle on all of these factors in the three cities and use that to come up with advice to governments as to what they need to do in order to avoid some of the worst problem of urban heat island effects.”

Do you think our cities getting hotter is a serious issue? What can be done about it?

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Singapore Airlines unveils revamped interiors

Singapore Airlines’ new first class seating. Economy class features a new in-flight entertainment system
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Singapore Airlines has unveiled a revamp of the interior of its long-haul passenger jets, which includes changes to seats and its in-flight entertainment system.

In a challenge to Qantas and alliance partner Emirates, Singapore Airlines is spending almost $US150 million ($165 million) on the product refit, which will begin on eight Boeing 777-300 planes.

The first planes to have the new first, second and business-class cabins will begin flying between the airline’s hub in Singapore and London in September.

The changes in the economy cabin include a wider 11.1-inch monitor and a video touch-screen handset. Seats will also have new back-rest seat cushions.

In first class, the main changes are a longer bed – from 80 to 82 inches – and a new fixed-back shell design with curved side panels. In business class, seats will have a greater decline at 132 degrees.

Singapore Airlines regional vice-president Subhas Menon described the changes as a refinement of its in-flight product rather than a “seismic shift”.

“It is an enhancement not so much in leg-room but in terms of comfort,” he said.

The airline is working closely with Singapore’s Changi Airport in an attempt to counter the threat posed by Dubai as a stopover for Australians flying to Europe.

Qantas switched from flying two A380s a day to London via Singapore in late March to Dubai as part of its alliance with Emirates.

“This product unveil comes for a critical time for us because there is a lot of focus on Singapore and Changi Airport,” Mr Menon said.

Singapore Airlines’ last major changes to its inflight products was in 2007 when it began flying A380s.

The latest revamp will not be rolled out on the airline’s fleet of superjumbos.

With the Australian economy relatively resilient, Singapore Airlines has expanded aggressively on routes to Australia, and last week increased flights from 112 a week to 121.

It includes a fourth daily service between Singapore and Melbourne, and an increase in weekly flights to Adelaide from 10 to 12.

Singapore Airlines doubled its stake in Virgin Australia to 20 per cent in April, and the pair have an alliance on routes to Asia and Europe.

The airlines have also been in talks about strengthening their loyalty programs and members’ ability to earn and redeem points.

In May, Singapore Airlines made a $US17 billion order for new planes, including the stretched version of the 787 Dreamliner.

Splitting its order between the world’s two major plane-makers, the airline will buy 30 Boeing 787-10Xs and 30 more Airbus A350-900s.

The A350s will be fitted with the new cabins when they are eventually delivered.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

New law set to benefit government building sell-off

The Department of Lands building in Bridge Street. Photo: Peter RaeGovernment legislation that would allow the Department of Planning to override the NSW Heritage Council’s approval control over the redevelopment of heritage-listed sites is expected to increase the value of Sydney’s sandstone Department of Lands and Department of Education buildings.
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The O’Farrell government said on Tuesday the historic buildings in Bridge Street were up for sale, along with the Ausgrid building in George Street and vacant land in Waterloo Road, Macquarie Park.

The sales are expected to generate about $200 million.

A spokesman for the acting Minister for Finance and Services, Andrew Constance, said the buildings would be sold off and not leased back by the government.

Premier Barry O’Farrell has been seeking interests from hotel companies to buy the Bridge Street buildings.

Draft legislation proposes to allow the Department of Planning’s director-general to take over the Heritage Council’s power to approve any redevelopment of heritage sites.

Heritage expert David Logan said, if enacted, the legislation would empower the Department of Planning to take over the Heritage Council’s approval role.

“If that were to occur, the Heritage Council would not necessarily have heritage control over what happens on the sites to be sold,” Mr Logan said.

“The decision to sell the sandstone buildings demonstrates why it is so important that there is adequate heritage protection irrespective of whether the buildings are in private or public use.

“If they are used for a hotel, they may want to add additional storeys.”

Mr Logan, who is also a member of the Heritage Council, but not speaking on its behalf, said: “If people think there are fewer controls on the buildings, they might be prepared to pay more for them.

“It is important that each building has a conservation management plan prepared in advance of sale, so that prospective purchasers have a good idea of what they would or would not be allowed to do.”

The government gained $405 million from the sale of seven other government buildings earlier this year.

Mr Constance said divestment of the assets reinforced the government’s commitment to only owning assets that support core government services.

“The sandstone buildings in Bridge Street have the potential for a range of uses – both are located centrally in the business district, close to Circular Quay and all transport services,” he said.

“The current heritage and planning controls in place for these two landmark buildings will ensure their unique nature is respected and protected.

The opposition spokeswoman for heritage, Barbara Perry, said under the government’s proposed legislation the planning minister would be able to “swat away heritage concerns with the stroke of a pen”.

“Mr O’Farrell must guarantee that the Heritage Council will retain control over the future of these iconic buildings. Nothing less is acceptable,” she said. “One wonders, if the motive of the O’Farrell government in removing the oversight of the Heritage Council is a naked attempt to fatten the assets for sale?”

Opposition Leader John Robertson said the O’Farrell government was on a fire sale.

He said the government was taking a very short term view of what is in the longer-term interests of the state, and was “undermining the role of the Heritage Council in this state”.’

Sam Haddad, the director-general of the NSW Department of Planning, said its involvement in specific development applications would only occur in the case of delays “or if there is conflicting advice”.

“This will mean little change from the current system and we will put in place a protocol with the Heritage Council to implement this approach,” he said.

However, Corinne Fisher, convenor of the Better Planning Network, said: “The ‘musts’ written into law trump any optional policy or promise.

“Notwithstanding Mr Haddad’s comments, what the NSW government’s Exposure Planning Bill 2013 says is that the final, binding decision-maker for development of all state heritage items will be the director-general of Planning, not the NSW Heritage Council.

“The Planning Bill 2013 turns off the Heritage Act for all state-listed heritage items, making the Heritage Act and the Heritage Council’s heritage protection role effectively meaningless.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Bikie turf war behind Sydney shooting, police say

Detectives set up a crime scene in the car park. Fatal shooting: police at the scene in Eastlakes. Photo: Nick Moir
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A turf war between rival bikie gangs the Hells Angels and Comancheros has escalated after a man was fatally shot in Sydney’s south east on Monday night.

Police believe a dispute between the rival gangs is behind the death of a 37-year-old who was gunned down in a car park outside an Eastlakes unit block just before 10pm, police sources confirmed.

At least six bullets were sprayed from at least two different guns towards the deceased and his 25-year-old friend, who was shot in the leg, outside a George Street property.

A third man who was standing outside the block called triple-0 and tried to revive his friend but ran away when police arrived.

As police searched a unit inside the block on Tuesday, a friend of the deceased stood outside and said his mate “had a heart of gold”.

Homicide Detective Inspector David Laidlaw said both victims were known to police, while homicide and gangs squad detectives had interviewed a number of associates from the rival gangs.

“We believe it is a dispute between two gangs, two rival gangs,” Detective Inspector Laidlaw said.

A police source said the shooting was related to a turf war that had been going on for months.

It is also believed the two victims were junior associates of the Hells Angels.

A black Mercedes four-wheel-drive seen leaving the scene shortly after police arrived on Monday night returned the next morning as police seized several items from a unit.

‘Bang, bang, bang, bang’

One neighbour said he was in the back room of his home when he heard four initial gun shots.

“Then there was about one second, and then bang, bang, bang, bang, at least another four shots,” said the neighbour, who asked not to be named.

He said about 10 seconds later he heard a car speeding away.

The shooting victims were screaming in the street, he said.

“I heard the man yelling ‘Argh!’, and I heard the other man yelling somebody’s name, and then he said ‘Oh no’.”

The neighbour said he heard screams for help coming from the street. The police came about 10 minutes later.

The neighbour said when he went outside he saw the body of the shooting victim lying on the road, and the injured man lying on the footpath.

“He was yelling ‘Argh, my leg!’,” the neighbour said.

He said he did not know the people involved in the shooting, but had heard several arguments on the street in the past year between two groups of people, including one group who lived in the apartment block.

Another George Street resident who lives a few doors down said her husband ran out onto the street after hearing gunshots and saw two bodies on the ground.

One man was lying on the nature strip and another on the road.

“I was on the phone about 9.50pm and I heard two shots and I thought they might have been coming from a car, and then no more than about 20, 30 seconds [later], about another four shots in quick succession and then a car just sped off,” the woman said.

“My husband … I didn’t want him to come out, but he just went to the front fence and then he saw … up out the front of the units, a body on the nature strip and then one was on the road ’cause he saw his foot on the curb,” she said.

“It was mayhem. There were police cars everywhere there would have been about five ambulance and then lots of cars with guys all running up the street, screaming, yelling. Was just chaotic for a bit.”

Another neighbour said a “gang” had moved into the block about six months ago.

He said he heard two gunshots, followed by four more and then a man screaming for help.

“One of them was screaming and screamed ‘help’. They are a bad bunch,” he said.

Detectives from the anti-bikie Strike Force Raptor have spoken to a number of residents on George Street and asked them not to talk to anyone.

A man who lives a few doors down from the cream brick unit block said he had been living in the street for 35 years and described it as “the quietest street in Sydney”.

– with Megan Levy, Rachel Olding, Josh Hover

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.